Thursday, February 12, 2015

Protesters decry killing of #wolves and bison in Montana

February 11, 2015 
Calling on the state and federal government to allow free-ranging bison to reoccupy traditional ranges and objecting to the killing of bison and wolves, protesters rallied on the steps of the Capitol in Helena Tuesday.

Led by James St. Goddard, spiritual leader of the Blackfeet Tribe, the roughly 50 who had assembled held signs and spoke out against the government-sponsored killing of animals deemed sacred to native people.

St. Goddard gained national headlines last year when he attempted to deliver a buffalo heart to Gov. Steve Bullock in protest of spring bison hunts. Bullock was not at the Capitol at the time and St. Goddard was prohibited from bringing the heart into the governor’s office. “I guarantee anybody who stands in the Indian way anymore -- that goes for these legislators, Obama, my good friend Mr. Bullock -- Creator’s going to deal with you,” he said. “He’s going to deal with these people killing these buffalo for no reason; killing these wolves for no reason.”

Dancers performed as drums and singing echoed against the Capitol stone like an amphitheater. St. Goddard and others continued to express their frustrations, calling the killings an affront to native rights, specifically the Hellgate Treaty of 1855 that he said guaranteed aboriginal hunting and fishing across much of the state. Signs read “Buffalo are not Livestock” and “Repeal MCA81-2-120,” the law controlling Montana Department of Livestock bison management.

Buffalo are the meaning of life for many tribes, with traditions passed down for thousands of years, said Jay Dusty Bull, who then drummed and sang before the rally. “Less than 100 years ago, legislation was passed at the federal level as well as here to not slaughter animals, animals that we as native people depended on hundreds of years ago,” he said. “And with annihilation they drove those animals away from us, put us on reservations.”

George Horse Capture Jr. called on people to come together to follow what Creator says to do, namely allowing bison to reclaim traditional range. Living in fear of nature denies that bison belong on the land, he said. Bison on Montana’s Indian reservations will provide the animals needed to see reoccupation realized, he said. “These buffalo are coming back, they’re the seeds for what’s known as when things are set right,” Horse Capture Jr. said.

St. Goddard called on Bullock to veto every anti-animal and native people’s bill that comes before him, although he did not name any specific legislation. “There’s so much power here, it’s unbelievable,” he told the crowd. “We’re going to be unstoppable, and I ask all the legislators and all the people that want to join us to be unstoppable, and to love.”